The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 04/13/12
ED SCHULTZ, “THE ED SHOW” HOST: That`s “THE ED SHOW.” I`m Ed
THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW starts right now. Good evening, Rachel.
RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: Good evening, Ed. Have a good weekend, my
friend. Thanks a lot.
SCHULTZ: You, too. Thanks.
Thanks to you at home as well for staying with us for the next hour.
In the great state of Alaska, there is a large island southwest of
Anchorage, off the coast of Homer, Alaska. It`s called on Kodiak Island.
And on Kodiak, there`s a Coast Guard station, on the eastern side of the
Yesterday, a retired Coast Guard chief petty officer and a currently
serving Coast Guard petty officer first class were found dead at a Coast
Guard communication station on Kodiak, where they both worked monitoring
radio traffic. The FBI is responding. They are treating this as a double
homicide of these Coast Guard members. Nobody is in custody. Both of
these men were shot to death.
Last night in Brooklyn, Ohio, near Cleveland, 911 dispatchers took a
call from a woman at Cracker Barrel restaurant saying she informed her
husband that she was leaving and he, quote, “was not taking it well.
Please respond to the Cracker Barrel to help.” By the time, the police
arrived, the woman had been shot dead, as had one of her 10-year-old
daughters, whose birthday it was that day. The girl`s sister, a second
daughter, was shot as well, critically injured. And a man with the gun was
leaving the restaurant. The man did not surrender his weapon and police
Also yesterday in California, in Modesto, California, Stanislaus
County sheriff deputies tried to serve an eviction notice. They were met
with gunfire. One of the deputies was killed as was a civilian on the
Last night in Greenland, New Hampshire, five police officers were shot
and, including the local police chief was killed, just eight days short of
his planned retirement. After shooting the five officers, 29-year-old
local man then shot and killed his ex-girlfriend and shot and killed
Early this morning in Chicopee, Massachusetts, out in Western part of
the state, a state trooper was shot and wounded, and the suspect in the
case was killed. According to an account in the “Springfield Republican”
newspaper, neighbor Joseph Kaczynski says he saw a man flee the building
with car keys in his hand saying “get away from me.” Seconds later, he saw
a gun barrel from a window and a shot whizzed out above his head. Quote,
“Then there were bullets everywhere, it was like Iraq.”
Kaczynski saw a state trooper approach the west street house and get
shot. Quote, “I saw him take a bullet.”
And today, in Orange County, California judge order portions of a
grand jury testimony released in the case of a 42-year-old man who strapped
on three guns, extra ammunition and a bullet proof vest and went into a
Seal Beach, California, hair salon where he shot and killed his ex-wife and
seven other people.
The salon owner was carrying only a pair of scissors as he saw the
gunman coming and approach the door of the salon. He was the first to be
shot dead and then the gunman`s ex-wife and then one, two, three, four,
five more people all shot dead in the hair salon and the again man turned
around and left and randomly decided to shoot and kill a man just sitting
in his car in the parking lot as well. Eight people dead in what law
enforcement officials say was approximately two minutes elapsed.
In court today in Tulsa, hate crimes and murder charges were filed
against these two men who went driving around Tulsa, Oklahoma, last week
allegedly choosing African-American at random to shoot and kill. They shot
and killed three men and wounded two others.
Yesterday in the city of St. Louis, prosecutors charged a 21-year-old
man for leaving behind a, quote, “trail of mayhem across St. Louis
Wednesday afternoon.” After some sort of argument, the man allegedly shot
two young men on the street at point-blank range. He shot one in the arm
and the other directly in the chest before pulling a gun on a St. Louis
Two days before that, also in St. Louis, a 24-year-old man was shot to
death while sitting in his car. Witnesses say they saw an armed gunman
just walk up to the car, fire several shots inside and then take off. When
police arrived on the scene, they found more than 20 bullet casings
scattered on the street near the vehicle.
St. Louis is a city frankly that`s been wracked by gun violence
recently. Even if we just stay there, there`s more. Early Sunday morning,
a 49-year-old woman was walking along the street on the north side of St.
Louis. Police say a man approached the woman, fired several shots at her
and fled the scene leaving her in serious condition.
A few days before that, three St. Louis teenagers were shot as they
were walking through the parking lot at a church`s chicken restaurant.
Fifty St. Louis police officers responded to those shootings, but there`s
still no suspect.
A few days before that, St. Louis homicide detectives were called to
the scene of a shooting in north St. Louis. A 25-year-old man named Mario
Moore (ph) was shot in the back. He later died from his injuries at a
Two days before that, in the same neighborhood, local residents called
the police when they heard roughly six gunshots ring out at around 7:00
that night. Neighbor neighbors say they saw a man pull into a driveway,
get away of his car, whereupon he was shot in the chest, suffering wounds
that prove to be fatal.
Gun violence has gotten so bad in the city of St. Louis, Missouri that
a number of local groups got together last week to call for a gun violence
summit to be held in the city between local law enforcement officials and
It was there in the city of St. Louis where the National Rifle
Association officially kicked off its annual convention, the nation`s
leading gun lobby.
The main featured speaker at today`s NRA convention was presumptive
Republican presidential nominee, Mitt Romney. Mr. Romney frankly has been
all over the map on gun issues during this career in politics. But the
latest version of Mitt Romney proclaims himself to be a life-long member of
Mr. Romney essentially just gave his stump speech at the NRA
convention today. But he did add in a few lines about guns. And, frankly,
what he added in about guns was a really hard to understand few lines.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We need a president who will
enforce current laws, not create new ones that only serve to burden lawful
gun owners. President Obama has not, I will.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: OK. In order to understand just what Mitt Romney was trying
to say today about guns, it`s a very important issue in our polity, right?
In order to understand what he`s saying, you actually sort of have to
diagram his sentences. I mean, take that line we just played.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROMNEY: We need a president who will enforce current laws.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: We need a president who will enforce current laws. So far so
But the next thing he says.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROMNEY: Not create new ones that only serve to burden lawful gun
owners. President Obama has not, I will.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: President Obama has not, what? Has not enforced current laws
or are you talking about the second part of what you said. He`s not
created new laws?
Technically, Mr. Romney is saying that Obama has not not created new
laws. It`s hard to understand the dangling negative. I think what he is
trying to give the impression of that President Obama has created new
restrictive gun laws. He`s created new laws, but which ones exactly.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROMNEY: We need a president who will stand up for the rights of
hunters and sportsmen and those who seek to protect their homes and their
families. President Obama has not.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: How has president not done that exactly? What has he done to
not stand for the rights of those people? What are you accusing him of?
(BEGIN VDIEO CLIP)
ROMNEY: If we`re going to safeguard our Second Amendment, it`s time
to elect a president who will defend the rights President Obama ignores or
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: What has President Obama been ignoring or minimizing and how?
Really? I mean, what is the accusation here? Do you want him to be
overtly doing something he`s not doing? You`re damning President Obama for
doing what about guns exactly?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROMNEY: We`ve all seen enough of President Obama over the last three
years to know that we don`t want another four.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: What is it about him that you are unhappy with on guns in
particular? What is the basis of the complaint here?
We reached out to the Romney campaign today to ask which specific new
gun laws President Obama has passed that Governor Romney was describing
today? They have so far not given us any answer. Hope springs eternal,
It should not be noted, after – those were his lines on guns in the
speech. And after that little mystifying map of vagueness today about
guns, finally, Mitt Romney got to the punch line part of his speech.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROMNEY: In a second tern, he`d be unrestrained by the demands of re-
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: I see. See, that`s what this is all about. President Obama
hasn`t done anything now, but he has a secret plan to take away everybody`s
guns in the next terms. A secret plan that he`s not pursuing now, but he
will pursue it if he wins a second term.
That is what gun politics are like right now. It`s this phantom about
how President Obama has a credit plan to take away your guns. And you can
tell he has a secret plan to take away your guns because he hasn`t yet
taken away your guns. Don`t you see?
But, still, you need to stop him from doing this thing that he has not
That`s what our guns politics are all about right now. Running than
anything to do with what is actually going on in the country about guns.
And there is something actually going on in the country about guns.
We do actually have a real gun violence problem in this country. Literally
in the streets of St. Louis, just outside of where the NRA was meeting
today, there is a crisis if you ask St. Louis.
And it was the same thing last year. Last year, the NRA convention
was held where? In the city of St. Pittsburgh. A city with neighborhoods
like Homewood, that are absolutely torn apart by gun violence.
And while the lobby that determines our gun laws in this country place
fantasy politics about policies that don`t exist and secret plans, the
consequences of that being what determines our gun policies plays out right
on the streets around them in flesh and blood.
Joining us now is Councilman Ricky Burgess, Pittsburgh City councilman
from the ninth district. We visited with Councilman Burgess last May.
Councilman Burgess, it is really nice to have you back on the show.
Thanks for being here.
REV. RICKY BURGESS, PITTSBURGH CITY COUNCILMAN: Thank very much,
Rachel. It`s good to be here.
While the conversation at the NRA convention revolves this year around
this idea that President Obama has some secret plan to take away people`s
guns, what conversation would you like to see the country have about gun
policy given the concerns of where you live and the folks that you
BURGESS: Well, I`d ask the Republican governor, why are you calling a
certain segment of the population to arms? What he is really doing
secretly, not even secretly, is he is asking people to buy more guns, to
buy more ammunitions that we know will cause death in the streets, blood in
The NRA really should be called a death convention. It should be
attended by morticians and funeral directors because what they want is the
wholesale guns without any legitimate restrictions, knowing full well that
these guns will be used in homicides. It will be used to – by gang
members. It will be used in crimes. The NRA and its lobby has advocated
for these crazy laws like “Stand Your Ground:” that has led to, you know,
the Trayvon Martin case.
It`s absolutely criminal that we have this lobby that`s absolutely
creating chaos of our streets. In the community in which I represent, gun
violence is destroying that community. It`s ending lives. It halts
economic development in that community.
MADDOW: Even after the Trayvon Martin shooting that has had such an
affect on the country`s politics and the way people are talking about gun
rights in this country. Even after things like the Gabrielle Giffords
shooting in Arizona, even after the mass shootings we`ve had in places like
Virginia Tech, one of things that you and I have discussed is that the real
word consequences of our gun policies in terms of gun violence, gun
massacres that happened never seen to factor into the discussions that we
have about gun policy.
I don`t know if I expect them to happen at the NRA since they are
advocates on one side of this issue, but you feel like those debates are
happening anywhere? Are we having a serious talk that`s not just
BURGESS: Well, it`s very difficult to have a conversation when the
NRA funds the campaign of legislature and politicians. In the state that I
represent, the NRA literally controls the state legislature, controls the
governor. These kinds of conversations cannot be had.
They absolutely want no responsible gun ownership or use laws. No
loss in stolen handgun reporting. No responsible – they want assault
There`s no reason for someone in an urban community to be walking down
the street with an AK-47 or have an assault rifle until their closet. Yet,
they had. The NRA advocates for these crazy uncontrollable access to guns,
which causes death and destruction in our neighborhoods.
MADDOW: Briefly, sir, do you think the NRA chooses cities with high
rates of gun violence for their convention on purpose? That it`s meant to
be some sort of sign of hubris or something?
BURGESS: I don`t know. I don`t think they care. But as I`ve seen it
before, they shouldn`t be the NRA convention. It should be a death
convention and it should attended by morticians, funeral directors and
people who preside over funerals because their policies, their practices
and their conventions in real life celebrates the death of young people on
our streets and in our community.
MADDOW: Pittsburgh City Councilman Ricky Burgess, who is kind enough
to host me in Pittsburgh when we`re there for the NRA convention. Sir,
it`s nice to see you again. Thank you.
BURGESS: Thank you.
MADDOW: All right. Still ahead, I could not make a trip to
California without seeing Bill Maher. So, I didn`t make a trip to
California without seeing Bill Maher. The great Bill Maher interviews me
in front of a very, very live audience, just ahead.
MADDOW: Four years ago, America had two political near-misses at the
very top. Vice President Palin was one of them. The other, President John
Edwards. Yes, that prospect, well, at least the consequences of that near
miss prospect come roaring back this week.
That and me with Bill Maher, coming up.
MADDOW: An unexpected thing happened today at that NRA convention in
St. Louis. Mitt Romney started off his speech to the convention by
inviting his wife up to the podium. It was a surprise. She was not billed
as part of the event.
But Mr. Romney brought her up and said that, I happen to believe that
all moms are working moms. Mr. Romney clearly believing he was scoring a
great political point in just not introducing his wife unexpectedly but by
saying he respects women who work in the home.
Also today on what ought to be the kind of spirit of bipartisanship
moment that the Beltway press knocks itself out, cheering so hard for, on
the same day Mitt Romney was telling the NRA that believes moms are working
moms, Barack Obama, the Democratic president, was telling an interviewer
exactly the same thing. Mr. Obama in an interview with Telemundo saying
this to Jose Diaz-Balart.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There`s no job that`s
tougher than being a mom. I saw that with my own mom, a single mom trying
to put herself through school. I see it with Michelle, and the incredible
energy that she brings to raising her kids.
And as I said last night, I don`t know Mrs. Romney well, but she seems
like a wonderful woman and obviously cares deeply about her family.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Fight, fight.
So, in the Democrat corner, there`s no job tougher than being a mom.
And in the Republican corner, all moms are working moms. It`s a huge fake
political fight in which both sides agree and use almost the exact same
language to express their very similar feelings, which means it`s not a
fight at all, which means that if there`s a difference between the parties,
if there is a difference between the candidates on women`s issues, if there
is something that explains why women tell pollsters they like President
Obama much more than they like Mitt Romney.
If we`re looking for the real difference between the parties that
explains this divide, we have not found it in this fake fight. Republicans
are not being accused of waging a war on women for no reason or for
something about which they agree with the Democrats entirely. Republicans
are being accused of waging a war on women for something they are doing
that is very different than what the Democrats are doing. It`s about
policy affecting women.
There is no distinction between the parties at all on nice feelings
about moms and candidate spouses, but there`s a great distinction between
the parties on, take your pick. I mean, in Arizona yesterday, the
Republican governor there, Jan Brewer, signed into law the most restrictive
ban on abortions in the country. Because of the way the Arizona law
measures pregnancy, it bans abortion even earlier than the other seven
states that have enacted this type of late term ban.
Arizona also added a new 24-hour waiting period to their state`s
forced ultrasound requirement, and it hits doctors who provide abortions
with new specially targeted regulations just for them.
A bill also landed on the governor`s desk this week that would make it
legal for doctors to lie to women about their pregnancies if the doctor
thinks it will prevent that woman from seeking an abortion. And still in
Arizona, remember the “tell your boss while you`re on the pill” bill, a
version of that bill passed the Arizona Senate this week. It is not dead.
In Mississippi, Republican Governor Phil Bryant, a guy who said after
taking office, quote, “We want Mississippi to be abortion free.” He`s well
on the way to that. He says he will sign a new trap law, a new targeting
the states only abortion clinic with onerous new regulations sometime in
the next few days.
In Iowa this week, wrangling among Republicans over abortion
restrictions appears poise to delay the legislature`s work on a little
thing called the budget and also the end of the legislative session.
Yesterday, the Iowa Senate was fighting about a Republican proposal to
defund Planned Parenthood.
In Michigan, former Congressman Pete Hoekstra is running for U.S.
Senate this year. This week on the campaign trail, Mr. Hoekstra was asked
about the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. The law that gets women equal pay
for equal work by insuring their access to the courts, here`s what
Republican Senate candidate Pete Hoekstra had to say about the Fair Pay Act
at a campaign event this week.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
FMR. CONGRESSMAN PETE HOEKSTRA (R), MICHIGAN: I voted against it.
That thing is a nuisance. It shouldn`t be the law.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MADDOW: That thing is a nuisance. Republican Pete Hoekstra of
Michigan calling the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act a nuisance. Again, it is
a law that says women must be allowed access to the courts to sue if they
are being paid less than a man for doing the same work.
That`s a nuisance according to Pete Hoekstra.
It was not a secret that Pete Hoekstra, along with most of his
Republican colleagues voted against the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act in
Congress. But this is kind of a bad time for Republicans to be making
headlines for trashing the fair pay for women law.
The Republicans likely presidential nominee, Mr. Romney, has been
falling all over himself this week on this issue. President Obama signed
the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act nine days after he was sworn in. It was
the first bill he signed into law. But when the Romney convened a
conference call this week specifically to talk about women and the economy,
they had trouble answering what seemed to be an easy straightforward
question about women and the economy.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
OPERATOR: Our next question will come from Sam Stein with “Huffington
Post”. Please go ahead.
SAM STEIN, HUFFINGTON POST: Yes. Does Governor Romney support the
Lilly Ledbetter Act?
ROMNEY: Sam, we`ll get back to you on that.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MADDOW: The point of the call is Mitt Romney is great for women and
Does Mitt Romney support equal pay for women and legislation to help
that along? We`ll get back to you on that. Did anybody know they were
going to ask that? Why didn`t you brief me?
That was a really embarrassing moment for the Romney campaign. And
even their clean up efforts were messy, not specifically addressing whether
Mr. Romney actually supported the law in their initial response after the
conference call debacle and finally saying that Mr. Romney would not change
the law. The campaign never did say whether Mr. Romney actually supports
the Fair Pay Act, whether he would have voted for it, whether he would have
signed it into law when he`d been president and it had come to his desk.
So, I`d like to officially send out a plea to reporters, who unlike
us, can get their questions answered by the Romney campaign. In your
reporting on the issue, here is an unanswered question on a totally
substantive political issue on which there`s a big issue between Democrats
and Republicans and on which Mitt Romney has so far avoided giving an
answer. If you really want to advance the political conversation in a
meaningful way, here is a freebie, here is a question to ask Mitt Romney.
Were most Republicans in Congress wrong when they voted no on the
Lilly Ledbetter Fair Act? Would Mr. Romney have voted yes if he were in
Congress? If he were president, would he have signed it into law?
Is Republican Governor Scott Walker wrong to have replaced the
Wisconsin state level version of the Fair Pay Act just last week? Why is
it replaced, I meant repeal. Sorry.
He repealed it. Mitt Romney says Scott Walker is his great ally.
Does that mean that he thinks Scott Walker is right to have repealed fair
pay legislation at the state level?
This is not an esoteric, impressionistic fake fight thing. There`s a
real difference here between the parties. So, how about we instead focus
MADDOW: Cute baby alert. Cute baby. In three, two, one. Cue the
cute baby. Yes, the world`s tiniest, tiniest, RACHEL MADDOW SHOW fan, who
I met at a book-signing for my new book in Los Angeles.
You know who I also met in Los Angeles and we got it all on tape?
Bill Maher. The Bill Maher – coming up.
MADDOW: It is possible that by this summer, there could be two high
profile Democratic politicians in prison for crimes related to the 2008
election. Two Democrats who had different but important roles in that
election cycle and who had held statewide office.
The first, of course, is Rod Blagojevich, the former Governor of
Illinois, who after the `08 election was charged with multiple felonies for
corruption, including trying to trade a gubernatorial appointment to
President Obama`s Senate seat for political favors and donations.
Governor Blagojevich was found guilty last year. He was sentenced to
14 years in prison. He started serving that sentence at a Colorado prison
The second major figure from the `08 election season who is now facing
trial and possible prison time – well, his role in the 2008 election is
that he himself ran for president. Having been the Democratic Party`s vice
presidential nominee in 2004, North Carolina Senator John Edwards made a
very serious run for the presidential nomination four years later in 2008.
We look back now on the `08 Democratic primary race as an Obama-
Clinton slugfest. But John Edwards was the other main contender in the
field. An absolutely brilliant orator, he had a very moving stump speech
about the two Americas, having grown up as the son of a mill worker in
For a lot of that campaign, he was very, very much in the running.
But we know that while that campaign was going on, under the surface, there
was a scandal brewing that was so strange, so lurid that it would have been
rejected by any self-respecting soap opera as way too farfetched. While
running president, projecting a family man image as a loving husband to the
immensely likeable Elizabeth Edwards, who was fighting cancer that would
eventually claim her life, John Edwards had a secret second family in the
making. Mr. Edwards was having an affair with a woman who had been hired
as a videographer for his campaign.
When word of the affair first got out in October 2007, it was
literally in tabloids. “The National Enquirer” broke the story. At the
time, Mr. Edwards denied ever having had an affair.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN EDWARDS (D), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The story is false.
It`s completely untrue. It`s ridiculous. I`ve been in love with the same
woman for 30-plus-years. Anybody who has been around us knows.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That was October 2007. At that time, the woman Mr. Edwards
had in fact been having an affair with was pregnant with his child. Now,
this was all while he was campaigning for president.
What was the plan if he`d been elected? Public family that you do
events with and put on the Christmas card, but also a secret second family
that you pretend doesn`t exist and that you, what, hide somewhere? If you
do hide them, where do you hide them? And do you hide them for two terms
or just the first one? Then a surprise unveiling after the reelect.
I mean, the White House is big, but not that big. What exactly were
you going to do, big guy?
Mr. Edwards started denying the affair in October. He dropped out of
the presidential race in January 2008. His second secret family baby was
born the following month in February. It was not until six months later,
in August of that year, that John Edwards admitted to having had the fair.
But even then, he denied that the baby was his.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
EDWARDS: I know that it`s not possible that the child could be not
mine because of the timing of events. So, I know it`s not possible. Happy
to take a paternity test and would love to see it happen.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Oh, no, you would not love to see that happen.
One of Mr. Edwards` political staffers had been saying that he was he
and not John Edwards who was the baby`s father. So, that was the cover
story that was supposed to survive even after John Edwards admitted the
So, yes to cheating. Yes to the affair. But no to father a child
with his mistress.
That lie survived until about the staffer being the real father of the
baby, that survived until the staffer fronting the lie wrote a book. The
staffer then taped an interview with ABC News in which he admitted that he
was, in fact, not the baby`s father, John Edwards was.
A week before that interview was scheduled to air, John Edwards
finally admitted that not only did he have the affair, but yes, in fact,
the baby was his. He made that admission publicly in January of 2010 when
the baby was nearly 2 years old. And, frankly, it was one year to the day
after he himself would have been inaugurated president had the 2008
campaign turned out a little differently.
It is kind of the most salacious political sex scandal of our time.
But because it`s in the past and because John Edwards is never going to run
for anything again, it would not make sense to keep covering this now
except perhaps as the Democratic side of a cautionary tale about how we vet
vice presidential nominees in this country.
But the reason I`m making a federal case about this is because a
federal case has been made of this, specifically, about the money part of
it, which we haven`t even got to yet.
See, during that `08 campaign, with the “National Enquirer” reporting
that John Edwards has had an affair and with him denying it, the reported
mistress hanging around rather giantly pregnant was a politically
inconvenient thing for this presidential campaign. And so, two of John
Edwards very wealthy supporters spent $900,000 trying to hide the woman
with whom John Edwards had had the affair, flying around the country on
private jets, putting her up in nice hotel rooms, they even paid for her
medical care while she was pregnant.
And here`s where the federal case part of it comes in. According to
the government, that $900,000 spent on John Edwards` mistress, that was
campaign contribution. It was money meant to protect John Edwards` public
image so he could keep campaigning for president, so he could keep making
the argument that he should be elected in part because he was a family man.
That money was spent for the benefit of the John Edwards for president
for campaign, not just for John Edwards the man. And $900,000 being spent
on that is way over the limit for how much you can legally donate to a
Remember when we used to think there was how much money you could give
to a campaign. The John Edwards trial is unprecedented. Nobody has been
indicted on charges like this before, let alone in the wild, wild west word
of campaign of no rules that the Supreme Court has created with the
Citizens United and all of the other finance laws they have killed in the
last few years.
Just for some perspective, Sheldon Adelson, the casino billionaire in
his family, they have spent more than 16 times as much money as in
implicated in the John Edwards scandal on Newt Gingrich in the 2012
Republican presidential primary. At least, theoretically, this case is not
about whether or not John Edwards is bad guy. It`s not about whether or
not John Edwards was a bad candidate.
For all the salacious, salacious detail here, ultimately, this whole
sex scandal boils down to whether he took campaign donations that were too
Joining us now is Hampton Dellinger, himself a North Carolina
attorney, and a former state deputy attorney general.
Mr. Dellinger has been covering the Edwards trail by blog and in
places like “The Atlantic” online.
Mr. Dellinger, thanks very much for your time. It`s nice to have you
HAMPTON DELLINGER, FMR. NC DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL: You`re welcome.
Great to be with you.
MADDOW: I know you have been covering this very, very closely. Did I
get the basics right there both about the scandal and about the case? I
wouldn`t be surprised if I messed something up.
DELLINGER: I`m surprised you didn`t. You got it spot on. And this
really is a one of a kind case. It will likely be the only case of its
kind because of the wild west world we live in, post-Citizens United, post-
speech now. We`ve got corporations and individuals giving tens of millions
of dollars, as you pointed out, in direct aids of candidates and their
So, $900,000 in indirect aid doesn`t feel good, doesn`t smell right.
Clearly, his activity as a husband was heinous, but it`s never been
considered felonious until now.
MADDOW: In terms of that aspect of it, the decision to bring a
prosecution here, you clearly think that there was no foregone conclusion
that this case should have become a criminal matter. And, clearly, John
Edwards` defense team has been making an issue of what might have motivated
prosecutors in bringing this case.
What can you tell us about the prosecutor in this case? About the
impetus for bringing these charges?
DELLINGER: Well, there`s no question that it`s an inconvenient fact
for the government. There`s never been a case like this before.
This is not Blagojevich selling a Senate seat. This was not an
ambassadorship for sale. This was not telling Fred Baron if he take care
of Rielle Hunter, you`ll get to be attorney general.
And so, a lot of folks have wondered what could have motivated this
type of prosecution. It is a fact that the U.S. attorney, a staunch
Republican who is able to stay in office, thanks to the Republican U.S.
attorney scandal – stayed in office during the first two years of the
Obama administration, that U.S. attorney, George Holding, indicted John
Edwards and stepped down and started running as a Republican for Congress.
He and Edwards crossed paths in the years past.
And so, there`s I think a discomfort with a novel prosecution and the
pivotal role played by someone who decided to play the candidate. He may
be the next U.S. senator from North Carolina.
MADDOW: Has he made an issue of the fact that he brought there
prosecution against John Edwards in trying to build his political career?
Has he been campaigning on it?
DELLINGER: It`s exhibit A.
In terms of the merits of case – when you look at the defense team
that John Edwards put together, I mean, that`s a fascinating part of this.
He`s such an accomplished attorney in his own right. He`s a trial lawyer
in his own right, yet he`s had to bring – he`s had to build a legal team
Do you think he`s done a good job of building a defense team? And
honestly, do you think they`ll win?
DELLINGER: Well, he`s built a team and torn them apart time and time
again, going through attorneys them like Elizabeth Taylor used go through
husbands, or Stan Bern (ph), Yankee manager. It`s really been, I think,
troubling to see how many fine attorneys have been part of his defense team
and then left it.
You know, the outcome, we can`t know. We do know that this is a jury
that`s going to be working class. I was in court the other day when the
pool came in. You saw more baseball caps than neckties. More t-shirts
than button downs.
It`s the type of jury that John Edwards appealed to as a candidate,
that he talked about in his two America speech. It`s the kind of jury that
he thinks he`s got a chance with, but boy is he taking a risk.
MADDOW: John Dellinger, North Carolina attorney, writer of the John
Edwards trial blob, which I`m pretty sure is the only thing in its kind in
the country. Thanks for following this so closely. Thanks for helping us
watch it. I appreciate it.
DELLINGER: You`re welcome.
MADDOW: All right. A seriously exclusive night with Bill Maher,
MADDOW: In all the years of asking the question, in all years of
their polling on the question, “The Washington Post”/ABC News poll has
never found support for the war in Afghanistan to be this low. Considering
the cost versus benefits to the United States, do you think the war in
Afghanistan has been worth fighting or not?
The proportion of people say yes it`s worth fighting is 30 percent.
The proportion who say it`s not worth fighting is 66 percent. It`s not
partisan result. A majority of the country, a majority of Republican-
leaning independents all say the war is not worth the costs now.
Here is something that`s really interesting from that same poll as
well. The question is: do you think the military should limit the amount
of time service members can be deployed to combat areas or do you think
limits on deployments are not needed? The answer: yes limit the amount of
time deployed for members of our military, so says 80 percent of the
American public – 80 percent.
Part of the reason that American troops have had many deployments in
the past year, so much time on the battlefield, is because for eight and a
half of the years that we have been fighting in Afghanistan, we were also
fighting in Iraq. And now that one of those wars, the Iraq war is over,
among we civilians, and whose name both wars have been fought, there`s been
something like a mini movement to figure out to say welcome home and thank
you to Iraq war veterans. To hold parades to mark the end of the Iraq war.
It began with a grassroots parade in St. Louis, Missouri. They moved
on to Fayetteville, North Carolina. And the on to Tucson, Arizona. This
past weekend, it came to Houston, Texas, for the first official city-
sponsored welcome home parade to mark the end of the war.
Local reports say thousands of people turned up Saturday in Houston to
say welcome home, to say thank you for your service in Iraq. The Houston
parade ended at the city`s Major League stadium. The crowd there for the
Astros season opener cheering as Iraq veterans marched on to the field.
The vets on the field included Army Staff Sergeant Wesley Hall, who
served two tours of duty in Iraq. His wife Shannon shot this video from
St. Louis did it, Tucson did. Houston did it. Melbourne, Florida, is
about to do it, this weekend, tomorrow, Saturday, at 4:00 p.m., Melbourne,
Florida, 650 people are expected to be marching in the parade, way more
than the town hoped for. Veterans from all branches of the military
expected, with marching band, and with a concert by Lost Lonely Boys at the
end of the event.
The Twin Cities, Minneapolis and St. Paul, they are planning their
parade for the following Saturday. Not this upcoming Saturday, but the
21st. After that, it will be Media, Pennsylvania. They are planning for
this Saturday, after the Twin Cities, they will be on April 28th in
Richmond, Virginia is planning a thank you and a welcome home parade
for May. They`re going to do theirs on May 19th. Now, the “Richmond
Times-Dispatch” newspaper is listed as a co-sponsor of that event, which
seems good in terms of organizational infrastructure and outreach. But I
should mention that Richmond is looking for $50,000 in donations to try to
make sure they can pull off their parade in May.
Des Moines, Iowa, has made plans for a parade in June. There are
other plans for other parades in conjunction with Memorial Day and with
July 4th. This is happening. It`s happening all over the country.
The Pentagon has so far said that they are really happy to see these
things happening all over the country – everywhere in the country except
in New York. They don`t want it in New York, but they want it everywhere
I think this could probably happen in New York City, too, in a
heartbeat if the Pentagon would just give them the green light. I`m just
MADDOW: Hey, so happy Friday. And if you are one wondering why
things look different than unusual on the show, it`s because we have been
broadcasting from California this week. California again tonight instead
of from our usual studios in New York City.
I did an event with David Handler, who you know from the “Lemony
Snicket” books. Daniel Handler and I did an event last night at the Castro
Theater here in San Francisco talking about my book “Drift.”
Tonight, I`m going to be in Berkeley, California, doing a similar
event with KPFA.
The Bay Area is where I grew up and I have to say – I love New York,
I love where I live in Massachusetts, but it`s really, really nice to back
here. I`m going to be heading up to Seattle and to Portland, Oregon, to do
events this weekend as well.
But here`s the thing. On Tuesday night of this week in Los Angeles,
the one and only Bill Maher agreed to host one of these events, to talk
with me about “Drift,” about the book at the Saban Theater. It was a huge
favor to me from Bill Maher and as you might expect, he was great. He was
really, really funny. I could talk to him all night.
Anyway, we sort of sneaked some cameras into the event. It was
definitely not designed to be TV. The facility was not designed for that.
But we thought we would try to capture some of this on tape in case it
turned out well, in case you might want to see it.
It turned out to be a great event and we put together some of it to
show here. But again, it was a challenge to shoot it. The footage was a
little more raw than you might be used to seeing on TV. But here it is.
Here`s a little night with Bill Maher to give you an idea of what is
happening after the show all week long and why I have been so hyper lately.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL MAHER, TV HOST/COMEDIAN: The really bad thing you did was the
Iran Contra –
MAHER: – because that took it to a whole new level and I still
remember that speech he gave where he said – I can`t remember the words,
but it basically was, what I was thinking in my heart wasn`t what my brain
was telling me or do you remember – you know the line I`m talking about?
It was his famous line about it – you know, my head told me one thing, my
heart told me another, and, look, I`m Ronald Reagan. That`s as good as
you`re going to get from me.
MAHER: It was really what he was saying.
MADDOW: I mean, so the reason that we got Iran Contra, right, is that
everybody knew what Reagan wanted to do in Central America. He was very
overt about it, and he had great approval ratings and had gotten people
very excited about a lot of things and the aftermath after assassination
attempt had his approval ratings very, very high as the country had a lot
of sympathy for what he had gone through.
And he felt like he could move people to do anything. He really felt
that he was this great communicator except in Central America. He really
wanted us to be militarily involved there and he could not persuade
Congress and he could not persuade the American public, and he writes in
his diaries how frustrated he is. He doesn`t understand it.
But, Congress, it`s no secret, everybody knows what he`s going to do.
And everybody says, we hear your case. No. Not doing it.
Congress passes a lot saying, we know what you want to do. You can`t
do it. You can`t do it through the military. You can`t do it through the
CIA. You can`t do it through some agency we don`t know about.
You can`t do it, period, that`s the law. It`s the law. You can`t do
it. We make the laws. No.
And so he went and did it anyway.
MAHER: Through Oliver North and trading two (ph) hostages.
And the way that he financed it was by selling arms to the Iranians,
which was also illegal and something he said we would never do and never
something that he would even try to defend. So that was really bad.
MAHER: It should have been a bigger scandal.
MADDOW: Yes. And I think because it had –
MAHER: Way worse than Watergate really.
MADDOW: I think it was – yes. I think it was.
MADDOW: And I always wondered if –
MAHER: Not worst than Monica Lewinsky but –
MADDOW: I did not sell –
MAHER: Monica Lewinsky –
MAHER: Lewinsky still way up there.
MADDOW: I always wondered if the reason that Iran Contra did not
stick as a huge scandal is because, A, it`s hyphenated. And we don`t like
that. But the two hyphenated places, like the Contra is over here and Iran
over here – they are far away?
MADDOW: They don`t feel connected. They are both –
MAHER: Yes. It was hard to follow.
MADDOW: It was hard to follow.
MAHER: And they liked Reagan. When he made that statement they kind
of went, oh, yes, I get it. He`s old. He`s been shot. He means well.
He`s a nice guy. You know, all that –
MADDOW: I would sell weapons to the Iranians, too, I guess, if I was.
But the – so, A, it was a really big scandal and the senior officials
are getting indicted, people are going to prison, George H.W. Bush had to
pardon everybody. And then George W. Bush hired them all back.
But it was rally big scandal and in trying to tamp down the scandal,
the thing that is most important for the overall thing that I`m writing
like it happened, which is that Reagan`s administration is trying to save
his butt. I mean, we`re talking about Nixon earlier, right, the famous –
the way that Nixon explained what happened in Watergate was – well, if the
president does it, it`s not illegal.
MADDOW: The Reagan administration defense for Reagan at the end of
the Iran Contra was, well, if the president does it and it`s vaguely
related to national security, it`s not illegal. It`s this radical idea
that President Reagan – yes, defied Congress knowingly to go do this thing
in Central America that we didn`t do (ph), yes, he defied Congress and all
sorts of crazy laws and sold the weapons to the Iranians and, yes, it`s
very clear that he knew it was all happening. But he`s the president and
it`s war-related vaguely.
And the president has unlimited power when it comes to things that are
vaguely war-related and that`s nuts. That`s absolutely nuts. It was a
MADDOW: And it was seen as a crazy idea at the time. Congress did
their investigation of Iran Contra and they were like, yes, that`s nuts,
this is crazy.
And there was a dissent to the congressional investigation of Iran
Contra. There was one dissent to the report that said actually, that crazy
line from the administration about how the president doing it, then it`s by
definition legal, the president can do anything related to national
security with no legal constraint without having to consult anybody and you
can do it in private and it just doesn`t matter, it`s the president, he can
do it – the one person who said actually I believe that was a Wyoming
congressman named Dick Cheney.
And which didn`t mean anything when he was just the Wyoming
congressman named Dick Cheney. But then, you know, he went on to be
secretary of defense, and he went to be vice president. And that became,
again, what should have been an aberration became normal. And we should
think of that as an aberrant, cockamamie, ad hoc thing cooked up to save
Reagan`s butt that he never should have survived anything other than that
MAHER: Don`t you like foreshadowing.
MADDOW: That was me with the great Bill Maher in Los Angeles, at the
Saban Theater this week talking about my book. It has been a whole week of
events like that, which is why I have been on the West Coast. And I have
to say, it has turned out to be really fun.
But not as fun as three, two, one – prison.
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